I wrote my first (unpublished) novel aged 20.
I wrote my second aged 40.
What the heck was I doing in between, and what happened to get me writing again?
Paul Penney is what happened.
Paul was a solicitor that I was advising through my financial planning company. He had sold his practice and was looking forward to retiring.
I quizzed Paul one day what he planned to do in his retirement. He replied that he would write poetry.
I asked why he had not written poetry before; why wait until retirement.
“Because you need fresh mental energy in order to write creatively” was his reply. I’ve never forgotten those words, it is a phrase I think about often.
Shortly after that meeting I went on holiday for two weeks. On my return, I had a message to call Paul on a number I did not recognise.
The number belonged to the cancer ward of Southmead hospital in Bristol. Paul had fallen ill suddenly, and a large tumour had been discovered.
Paul died two weeks later.
That is what got me writing again. Shortly after I started taking Wednesdays off work, in order to create space for that fresh mental energy. I published Bridge Of Straw 3 years later.